The Top Five Character Actors in Film Today

So what is a character actor? Simply put, they’re the people that you may or may not remember were actually in the movie, but chances are you will simply because they were so out there that you couldn’t ignore them. They’re hardly ever the lead, and in fact it’s because of this that several of them are so sought after for multiple films. The level of energy and skill at sitting in the background until right moment without upstaging the leads is an art form that not a lot of actors can seem to master. However a small number of actors are able to do this with an astounding amount of ease that makes viewers wonder if they even desire the leading role, or if they’d be happier being the strange outcast for the rest of their career.

While those listed below have in fact experienced the spotlight, it’s a known fact that they seem much more adept at their craft when performing character roles.

5. Christoph Waltz

As a villain or the anti-hero type he’s hard to not like. Even in Inglorious Basterds he was easy on the eyes and ears despite his despicable acts and nature. Waltz is the kind of bad guy that doesn’t seem all there, but when it’s time to get down to business he doesn’t hesitate in his duties.

4. Mark Strong

Some might think he plays a stronger villain character than he does a hero, but in truth he’s just as strong in his role as a mentor and fellow team member in Kingsman: Secret Service. In fact he actually seems quite likable as a mentor and teacher as opposed his villain roles when he’s just a flat out jerk.

3. Jeffrey Wright

You might remember him as the photographer in Ali or you might remember his role in the Hunger Games. It might even be from Westworld that you remember his somehow quirky attitude. Perhaps his most aggressive role came in the remake of Shaft in 2000. Some might think he played a lead role in that film, but in truth no one upstages Samuel L. Jackson.

2. Ken Jeong

The Hangover is what you remember this guy from, let’s just get that on the table. He was funny, he was out there, and he was, well, yeah, just gross. But he also had a part in Transformers: Dark of the Moon, Knocked Up, and even a voice credit in Angry Birds. So it’s safe to say that he’s a memorable figure as a character actor, because really that seems to be where he wants to be.

1. Tilda Swinton

So the first question is this. Does this woman ever age? She’s been an archangel in Constantine, a sorcerer supreme in Doctor Strange, a sniveling corporate mouthpiece in Snowpiercer, and many other notable roles that all call for different but equally strange character quirks that she delivers on without hesitation. Some might question as to whether she’s all there with so many notable performances, but taking into account the fact that she can deliver on cue it’s easy to see why she’s considered one of the elite character actors in Hollywood.

If you didn’t see one of your favorite actors keep in mind that this type of list changes quite often. Most actors that appear as character actors might one day take the lead and never look back, while others might retire and seek a quieter existence. In a world filled with those that want the lead, there will always be a need for the character actors.

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